Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Inception Review

Fig 1

Inception follows the story of the thief Dom Cobb who is able to invade peoples dreams and steal ideas from them. Cobb lost everything and is forced to perform inception, placing an idea into someones head to make them think that it's there own, in a last ditch attempt to return to the united states and be reacquainted with his children. However Cobb's past is interfering with his work endangering the mission and Cobb's chance of seeing his children are in jeopardy.

Fig 2 - So how did we get here?
In Inception Cobb's team attempt to perform inception on Robert Fischer in an attempt to place the idea to break up his dead fathers company. In order to achieve inception however the group have to go into a three-layered dream in which Ariadne is tasked in designing the dreams to achieve a realism. Our belief of a reality is severely toyed with in Inception where the audience is constantly drifting through 4 layers of dream world. The 'real' world and these layers are all connected and the disturbances of one layer creates a ripple effect throughout the rest. Much like the characters perception of reality in their traversing through these layers we begin to question the 'real' world, are we viewing a reality or a fantasy construct of one of the characters? Inception uses many metaphors to 'mirror' its structure and its multiple and layered reality; mirrors, water, labrinths and Penrose Stairs all point to the theme of recursion, an infinite loop. A key scene to recognise this in is when Cobb and Ariadne are standing between two mirrors infinitely projecting their reflections.

Fig 3
The uses of 'mazes' in Inception links with the idea of hyperreality in which the layers are made up of a copy world created by Ariadne the architect. A metaphor to link with the idea of hyperreality in Inception is that in Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and simulation 'If once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction testifying to a pride equal to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, a bit as the double ends by being confused with the real through aging) - as the most beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has now come full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.' (Baudrillard, 1994:1) To sum up basically we are unable to distinguish the difference between the actual world and the map because of the high level of details much like Ariadne's ability as an architect to form 'mazes' in dreams. This is why Cobb is angered by her misuse of her ability as if she concentrates on creating real places within dreams she will be lost in a hyperrealistic dream world, unable to distinguish her dreams from reality. But this idea of mapping to understand our surroundings is constant throughout Inception where Ariadne creates mazes in the dreams in order to halt projections/Mal from knowing where the team are. This opens up the idea that our own beliefs about the world is what creates our perception of what the world is like relative to ourselves.

The closing scene for Inception has caused much frustration and speculation as to what happens to Cobb. The ending is very postmodern in where Cobb enters his home to embrace his children again and with clever cinematography the audience is left with a painfully ambiguous ending as to whether Cobb is still dreaming. Looking into postmodernism and metaphysical realism we can understand how inception fits into the postmodern branch 'Philosophically, metaphysical realism includes a commitment to...the notion that there is one way the world really is and ...the notion that the basic laws of logic (identity, noncontradiction, excluded middle) apply to reality. Postmodernism involves an antirealist rejection of these realist commitments..."reality" is a social construction. Language creates reality, and what is real for one linguistic group may be unreal for another.' (Moreland, 2003:145). There are many links to this throughout inception such as when the team visit a dream inducing den Eames: They come here every day to sleep? Elderly Bald Man: [towards Cobb] No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise, son?. In this case the elderly man takes up a postmodern stand in that the 'dreamers' perceive their dreams to be the reality as they are in control and it is relative to them. This is much like the ending with Cobb believing to have escaped his dream back into reality. However because of the ambiguous ending the audience is led to believe that Cobb could still be dreaming and that his dream has now become his reality.



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Text -

Baudrillard, Jean (1994) Simulacra and Simulation accessed on 12/10/2011
Inception quote -
Moreland, James Porter (2003) Philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview accessed on 12/10/2011

1 comment:

  1. Hey Max, I missed this review - it's a goodie! You use your review of inception to really tap into some postmodern territories - including hyper-reality. This would make an excellent basis for your written assignment. Good stuff :D